We’re going to have a gap in chicken availability until the last week of April, possibly the first week of May and there are two reasons for it. 1. Weather. 2. Bleach.
Ya, you read that right. Bleach. Let me explain.
Oftentimes people will ask me… is your chicken organic, is it certified humane, is it free range or soy free or this or that. The issue with those labels is they don’t tell the entire story. You see, free range chicken doesn’t mean it was raised on pasture, and organic chicken doesn’t mean the chicken actually ever saw the light of day nor that it was given a life worthy of its sacrifice either. And none of those labels tell you how the farmer that raised them was treated, nor do any of them tell you if your chicken was dipped in chlorine (spoiler alert… most of the chicken in the United States, no matter the label, HAS been dipped in bleach. Not Moink chicken though. We don’t roll like that).
Here at Moink we do things differently. You see we believe in doing all the things and doing them right. We’re in the business of helping farmers farm, and raising animals right, and delivering the highest quality meat you can’t find anywhere else. We call this ethical meat. But, there isn’t a label that covers “all the things.”
Our chickens are raised outdoors on pasture and play a vital role in regenerative agriculture. They work in tandem with the bug population and put vital nutrients back into the soil. We raise them in “chicken tractors” which are essentially look like a big greenhouse with chicken wire around it to keep the predators at bay and to shade them from extreme heat. We move these bad boys daily so that the chickens are never on the same stretch of grass for more than 24 hours. We rely on four legged farm hands such as Pyrenees dogs to further protect them from the many predators lurking out in the wild open just waiting for a little nugget of chicken.
We supplement their diet with non GMO grains and probiotics. (Side note here… if anyone ever tries to sell you a vegetarian fed chicken please run. Chickens eat bugs… that isn’t a vegetarian diet.)
We don’t use antibiotics and we don’t use confinement buildings. We don’t do sketchy things like doctor their beaks or crowd the birds. Nah, our chickens are free birds. All puns intended.
Then, the nitty gritty details that y’all don’t want to know about… well, I’m in the business of making those details my business. The process of having the birds processed. You see, the majority of chicken here in the United States, organic, free-range, pastured raised, whatever you want to label it, has still, most likely, been dipped in chlorine to meet USDA processing requirements. But we don’t do that at Moink. We air chill them, and to meet the requirements of USDA we use an organic vinegar and hydrogen peroxide mix to clean our facilities. No bleached chicken here.
So, there is an art to sourcing our chicken. We have to have it grown near our processing facility which is in Arkansas. This means that we do not raise chicken in the dead of winter. I mean, hello, chickens eat bugs and there ain’t no bugs when you’re slipping on a solid sheet of ice. So what we do is project out in the summer and fall to our growers and our last batch of chickens are processed in December and has to last us until we start processing again in spring. It always makes me a little twitchy when I have to do these projections. If I over project and we grow too many birds without a market for them? The farmer and I both risk going bankrupt over it. Project too little and run short? Well, y’all get a little fussy about not having your chicken. And we need your business so that we can continue to grow and so that we can meet our next year projections. We can’t risk having a mass exodus of customers over the lack of chicken.
I am usually pretty spot on, but this year with Shark Tank we had an influx of business and we had very little notice before my episode aired (just a few weeks). As soon as I was given the green light that indeed, I would be swimming with the sharks (side note, there is no guarantee that your episode does air with Shark Tank), I told my farmers to get to gettin’ and we all started ramping up production in the hope that all of you would come support us. And you have, and I am very grateful for that, but the weather hasn’t cooperated with us as we would have liked and therefore our chickens didn’t grow as fast as we would have hoped. (When you don’t use factory farm methods, you have to be flexible with Mother Nature.)
Now, in the long run, we would love to have multiple processing facilities in areas where there isn’t snow in the winter so we can have year round bird production. But that takes a lot of money and logistics and we haven’t gotten to that point yet. We will get there eventually… do or die trying, but we just aren’t there yet.
And anyway, the end result is we have a gap.
Now, yes, I could source organic chicken elsewhere and it would have the label and it would have been fed all the right things, but it will have been dipped in bleach and you wouldn’t know that… but I WOULD KNOW and I like to sleep at night. And in my mind, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.
So, I am just not willing to lower my standards. I refuse to cut corners now matter how much pressure I am under.
So I am kindly asking y’all, if you really want to stand behind the small family farm and be in our corner, to please do a few things for me.
- Eat some beef, pork, and salmon for the next few weeks. I mean, can we make bacon a thing for the next month? We will be completely out of chicken breast and chicken tenders and have a very limited supply of drumsticks and wings. If you are with beef and pork, swap out your chicken so those that are fussy about wanting chicken can have it.
- Stick with me. Once chicken is back in stock I’ll let you know because I’ll need you to eat through our projections. Literally. So that we can make sure we do that dance of supply and demand to support the family farm.
Please know that I truly appreciate your business and am very honored to play a part at your supper table. Just the fact that you have taken the time to read this means that you care about where your food comes from and it makes us feel like we aren’t alone here.
Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we fight for the family farm.
From the heart,